Category Archives: Video Games

MechWarrior Online Winners and Losers after the Skill Tree

It’s been a little over a week since the new Skill Tree has dropped on the May 16th patch, and while it has been as rocky an introduction as anything PGI has done in MechWarrior Online, it hasn’t resulted in any sort of wide abandonment of the game. It has however resulted in a lot of confusion as MechWarriors try to unravel the dense language that was given in the update and try to determine what it meant for their favorite ‘Mech.

The stated purpose of the Skill Tree was to enhance the customizability of pilot’s chassis, and in that regard the Skill Tree has succeeded. MechWarriors can now decide whether they want their Centurion to plod along and take hits relying on all of the armor and structure skills, or they can opt for a more nimble ride with a mix of weapons and sensors to keep your ‘Mech up and fighting.

Or you can just be crazy and max your jump skills, pilot a Spider, and fly around like a crazed Land-Air ‘Mech.

Whatever route you choose, the patch has certainly shifted the viability of certain ‘Mechs more than others in this competitive game. It’s still too soon to see how the new meta will shape up, but there are some definite winners and losers with the Skill Tree, and we take a look at a few of them today.

Winners

The Skill Tree patch had a number of changes besides implementation of the tree itself. One of those changes was a review and revision of all ‘Mech quirks to ensure that the skill tree wouldn’t suddenly provide highly quirked ‘Mechs the ability to increase those quirks with skills to the point of creating a super ‘Mech. Mostly the patch removed the big weapon-based quirks that incentivised certain builds in certain ‘Mechs.

While this change has resulted in some big losers (which we’ll get to later), it also has resulted in some big winners. In general, ‘Mechs that had few or no quirks have seen their abilities increase since the new patch.

Arctic Cheetah – All variants

ACH-Prime

courtesy of MWOWiki.org

The meta light ‘Mech is one of the few light ‘Mechs to come out ahead since the Skill Tree patch. The formerly quirkless chassis now receives all the benefits of the skill nodes with no downsides, essentially supercharging the little rascal into unquestionably the best ‘Mech in its class.

Hunchback HBK-4SP

HBK-4SP

courtesy of MWOWiki.org

The Hunchback has been a middling medium ‘Mech for some time, having long since been overshadowed by its Clanner cousin the Hunchback IIC. The Skill Tree has breathed new life into the original Swayback in the form of armor and structure skills.

The HBK-4SP retained its armor and structure quirks from before the patch that allowed the ‘Mech to remain viable, and these quirks benefit supremely from the new survival skills. How much do they benefit? With all survival skills taken, the center torso on the 4SP takes over 150 points of damage to destroy, turning the humble Hunchie into a tiny armoured assault ‘Mech.

Battlemaster BLR-2C

BLR-1G

courtesy of MWOWiki.org

With high mounts and tons of energy hardpoints, the Battlemaster BLR-2C has been a popular choice for competitive decks looking for a tanky bruiser. With few weapon quirks to lose, and retaining its massive structure bonuses, the skill tree turns the BLR-2C into the biggest zombie ‘Mech the game has ever seen.

Hellbringer – All variants

HBR-Prime

courtesy of MWOwiki.org

Having never needed quirks to be a danger on the battlefield, giving this Clan heavy ‘Mech access to skills that reduce its heat generation and allow it to fire its weapons faster just meant the DPS on this chassis got a big boost. The Hellbringer never needed the damage boost in order to be competitively viable, so watch out for this ‘Mech to receive some kind of nerf in future patches.

Losers

While many quirk-less ‘Mechs have won big in the latest patch, there are just as many quirk-full ‘Mechs that have lost out in a big way. With the introduction of the Clans some years ago, many Inner Sphere designs needed massive buffs to certain weapons in the form of quirks in order to keep up. Removing those quirks have resulted in some much maligned ‘Mechs being rendered next to useless compared to some of the big winners.

On top of that, the patch also introduced the engine desync, which altered how engine size affects performance. Instead of larger engines causing ‘Mechs to accelerate, decelerate, and turn faster, those qualities were rolled into the chassis itself while larger engines strictly affected maximum speed. This has resulted in some larger engine designs losing much of their maneuverability along with their firepower.

Locust – All variants

LCT-1V

courtesy of MWOWiki.org

The combined loss of weapons quirks and engine desync has hit the venerable Locust particularly hard. Previously, its small size combined with its ability to stop and start on a dime meant it was particularly difficult to target the little bastard. Now it’s both lost much of its bite and is much easier to target.

Blackjack BJ-1

BJ-1

courtesy of MWOWiki.org

The BJ-1 was of those Spheroid ‘Mechs that relied on its massive weapons quirks for its power, primarily in ballistics cooldown and heat generation. With those quirks much reduced and not enough skills introduced to replace them, the poor Blackjack is no longer the king Inner Sphere medium dakka ‘Mech.

Cicada CDA-3C

CDA-3C

courtesy of MWOWiki.org

The Cicada is another ‘Mech that relied on massive quirks for its usefulness. Although never popular, Cicada pilots definitely benefited from the -50% PPC heat generation quirk when plinking away with their particle gun. Now that quirk is gone, and there’s nothing in the Skill Tree that even comes close to approximating that massive boost, relegating the Cicada to the unused tier of ‘Mechs.

Quickdraw QKD-IV4

QKD-4G

courtesy of MWOWiki.org

The hero Quickdraw was another ‘Mech that had a ton of weapons quirks to give it a boost, but it also lost out due to the engine desync as well. It had massive acceleration and deceleration quirks to make it one of the more nimble heavy ‘Mechs, but once those characteristics were rolled into the chassis it lost much of the benefit its large engine provided. Never a popular design, it feels like the rug has been swept right out from under the QKD-IV4’s feet.

Any ‘Mechs you think were big winners or losers in the latest patch? Let us know in the comments!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

 

 

24 Hour Mechathon in support of Covenant House – May 20

image courtesy of No Guts No Galaxy

It’s not often that videogames cross paths with noble humanitarian causes, but when they do it’s a Very Good Thingtm

Just announced on the No Guts No Galaxy Forums, the 24 Hour Mechathon is, as the name might suggest, a marathon game of MechWarrior Online with all proceeds going to charity. This year’s recipient will be Covenant House, an organization dedicated to the assistance of abused, runaway, and homeless youth.

The announcement comes with a touching story from the event organizer RJBass3, who at age 18 “was living homeless on the streets of South Florida”. Covenant House rescued RJBass3 from a life on the streets and made sure he and many other disadvantaged youth received food, shelter, and healthcare while they grew into independent members of society. He would eventually go on to join the 228th Independent Battlemech Regiment, a unit in MechWarrior Online, where he would rise through the ranks to become executive officer of the 318th Heavy Assault “Swamp Foxes”.

Now, 25 years later, RJBass3 will give back to Covenant House in the best way possible: a 24 hour charity stream of MechWarrior Online. Both he and many other MechWarriors will begin streaming on Saturday, May 20th to raise money and awareness for Covenant House. The fine folks at No Guts No Galaxy will be hosting the stream on their twitch channel, and there will be many prizes and giveaways from both PGI (the developers of MechWarrior Online) as well as No Guts No Galaxy.

If you can’t make the stream on May 20th then don’t worry – you can make an advance donation to the 24 Hour Mechathon on the Covenant House event page here.

So tune in on May 20th to watch a some giant stompy robot action until their pilots fall asleep in their neurohelmets. And while you’re there, consider a donation to Covenant House. It is, after all, for the kids. 

Latest Q&A With HBS + New Beta Date

It was good news and bad news at the latest Q&A session with Harebrained schemes.

The bad news is there’s still no new date set for the backer beta, which has now been delayed two months since the Kickstarter estimated test date. As reported in the latest session hosted by our good friends at No Guts No Galaxy, the developers are still hard at work ironing out the kinks in BattleTech’s armor before they feel comfortable releasing it to outside testing.

The good news is that HBS is back to firing on all cylinders from their disastrous build upgrade in March, and HBS co-founder Mitch Gitelman says they are “narrowing in” on a beta test date announcement in the near future.

Mitch also announced a live test of BattleTech’s multiplayer game mode between himself and game director Mike McCain which has now been posted to the Harebrained Schemes YouTube channel. This is our first real look at BattleTech‘s gameplay, and I’m sure you’re all eager to see a preview of what is sure to be the hottest ‘Mech game in recent memory. 

The hour-long Q&A took place with Mitch as well as audio director Rob Piersol and game composer John Everest.  As befit their professions, they answered mostly sound related questions concerning BattleTech’s development. One thing mentioned during the sound testing was the inclusion of a rotary Autocannon into the game and how that sound developed with respect to modern day weaponry.

The mention of the Rotary Autocannon is a tad surprising as the game is ostensibly dated in the year 3025, many decades before the introduction of the Rotary A/C into BattleTech lore. Mitch also commented that there will be different manufacturers in the game, some of which selling the single-shot Autocannons and others selling the Rotary type. Could this be an indication of a departure from the classic BattleTech rules in the name of added gameplay depth?

Also confirmed during the stream will be an action dependent musical score and pilot death-screams similar to those found in the MechCommander series of games.  

While it’s a bit of a disappointment not to have an updated backer beta date announced, it’s good to hear that development is once again proceeding apace. We here at Sarna will be sure you bring your more BattleTech related news as it’s announced.

Update 2017-05-12: According to the latest KickStarter update, the Backer Beta will start June 1st! Fantastic!

MRBC Season 9 Check-In

Welcome to another MRBC roundup. It’s been nearly 4 weeks since our last peak at the MRBC, and the league is starting to take shape and provide us with this year’s contenders. This early in the season it’s still anybody’s game, but we take a look at the front runners in the top divisions across each region.

Eon Synergy

In Europe the fight is turning out to be between Eon Synergy and Black Spikes Team 2 “Yellow Submarine” (which is easily the longest and most confusing title in the league), with both teams having a combined 15 drops won and 5 drops lost. Eon Synergy edges out Yellow Submarine in the all important reputation score but only by a mere 75 points, which can easily be regained by one team getting a few extra kills during a match. The two teams have met only once so far in a close game that saw Yellow Submarine the victor in 3 drops to 2. Notable in that game was a pair of drops where Yellow Submarine shutout Eon Synergy, destroying all their ‘Mechs. The two team are scheduled for a rematch on May 18th, and I’m sure Eon Synergy will be out for blood.

Osiriz

North America is becoming a three-way race between Osiriz, Dropship 5, and the 228th IBR “Black Watch”. While Osiriz leads the division with 5375 points, the other two teams have yet to play their fourth match of the season, which could easily catapult either of them into the lead. Osiriz has played the 228th once this season, resulting in a near blowout with 228th taking 4 out of 5 drops. Dropship 5 has fought neither of the other two leaders so it remains largely unknown how they’ll fare, but it should be noted that Dropship 5 has not had a single lost drop this season, leading some to speculate they are merely waiting for their victorious matches to take the top position in the division.

VETO

The Asia Pacific Region is also turning into a bit of a three-way race between the 228th IBR “The Wild Ones”, Veto, and The Cheapskates. The Wild Ones are currently in the lead with 4200 points, however both Veto and The Cheapskates have yet to have their fourth match. The two are set to have their first meeting on May 12th, which will surely leapfrog the victor into first place for the division. The Wild Ones are far from out of the race, and it’s anyone’s game in the Pacific rim.

Division B The Race To Watch

ISENGRIM

Interestingly, Division B in North America is looking to be a far more hotly contested race, with four front runners vying for dominance. In first place is ISENGRIM, a team which has crawled their way up from Division E and are looking to break into the Division A roster. Hot on their heels are three Division B veteran teams: Marine Mech’s: The Cabal, Blackstone Knights, and the 373rd Winged Viper Cluster (Smoke Adders). Most of these teams have met each other across the field of combat, and many of these matches have gone down to a single surviving ‘Mech.

MarineMechs

MarineMechs versus ISENGRIM was a particularly brutal match, with no team taking a ‘Mech off the battlefield that wasn’t fit for scrap. That is, except for the last match, where MechWarrior mdmzero0 suffered an unfortunate disconnect, taking his 100 ton Atlas essentially out of the drop. The sight of a rampaging and freshly painted Atlas would have been terrifying were it not for the match timer ticking down to ISENGRIM’s victory. A real heart breaker for MarineMechs. 

If you’re looking for some exciting matches, keep an eye on the Division B of MRBC’s upcoming shoutcasts. You’re sure to see some intense ‘Mech combat. 

That’s it for our latest recap of the MRBC season 9 standings. We’ll check back in later on the in the season to see if these tight races have any clear breakaways that could give us a preview for the upcoming MechWarrior World Championships coming this summer.

Until next time, ‘Mech fans. Stay syrupy.  

MechWarrior Online Skill Tree Round 2

Skill Tree

images courtesy of MechWarrior Online

After a brief hiatus as PGI reviewed player feedback and concerns, MechWarrior Online has begun another round of public testing on the proposed Skill Tree changes in an announcement on their website.

The previous Skill Tree was planned to be implemented in the April patch, however vocal opposition to the proposed changes to player progression caused the game’s developers to place a pause on its implementation. Players complained of lost progression, wasted c-bills tied to piloting modules set to disappear from the game altogether, and the potential for disaster as ‘Mechs with performance enhancing quirks were rendered useless when said quirks were similarly removed.

The developers have returned with a second offering of the Skill Tree which they hope addresses these concerns, however players remain cautious of this contentious change.

MechWarrior Online is no stranger to controversy. The history of the game is filled with poor communication and developer decisions that ran at times contrary to the will of MechWarrior fans. The introduction of “ghost heat” and pay-to-win consumables were rightly factious additions, however those did not engender nearly as much backlash as the addition of a third-person camera during the game’s release in 2013. At the time the MechWarrior Online forums were nothing but an endless stream of vitriol directed at the developers, only made worse by a lack of response with the broader community.

This lack of communication angered the founding player base, causing many die-hard MechWarrior fans to give up on the game altogether. Those that stayed would see the player base slowly dwindle as players either moved on to different games (a natural occurrence with all online games), or soured to the idea of paying hundreds of dollars for a few additional ‘Mechs. Those financial missteps can be well summarized by the gold-plated ‘Mechs offered during the Clan Invasion sale, a cash grab so blatant as to make headlines around the world.

Much to the relief of fans, the game saw a revival in 2015 with its release on Steam, where thousands of potential gamers would be drawn to the irresistible allure of big stompy robots. For their part, PGI has vastly improved in player communication and community support, with frequent weekly events that give loyal players a much needed boost to their in-game coffers.

The current opinion of the Skill Tree could be best described as skeptical. While there was certainly no opposition to the implementation of a skill tree, per-se, the player base was quite content to retain the current method of skill progression.

Once again there are vocal MechWarriors expressing deep concerns on the Skill Tree, such as the removal of ‘Mech enhancing quirks that may leave certain chassis helpless on the battlefield without ‘Mech specific skill nodes to save them. Others are concerned that a skill tree with hundreds of possible branches adds yet another layer of obfuscation to an already dense game, making the barrier to entry for new players insurmountable.

There is one thing for sure: PGI is right to be extremely cautious as they roll out the enhanced Skill Tree. The consequences of a misstep here could result in a mass exodus of players angry at the ruination of their beloved ‘Mechs.

And this time there’s no other Steam-like platform left for the developers to release the game to.

MRBC Season 9 Has Begun!

The MRBC, the largest MechWarrior Online league, has officially begun. This latest season has a record breaking 79 teams signing up to take part in the carnage, and after action reports are already coming in. While that’s way too many teams for us to cover on a regular basis, we’ll hope to give a regular roundup of the top level teams duking it out in Division A, as well as notable highlights from the lower divisions.

First, let’s take a look at the teams from Division A of each region. Starting with Asia Pacific, we have the 228th Wild Ones, one of the finalists for last years MechWarrior Online championships and a very strong team having been in Division A since their arrival in season 5. Next up, a newcomer to Division A, team Spud Shed. Having taken first place in Division B for season 8, they’ve moved up to Division A and are ready to take on all comers. Then there’s the Oceanic Merc Corp, aka “The Cheapskates”, another longtime Division A team who can’t afford to lose (not for fear of relegation – they’re just cheap). Finally we have team VETO, another new Division A team that is comprised of Division A veterans looking to make a name for themselves under a new banner.

9th Sanguine Tigers

In Europe we have 6 teams vying for the title of Division Champion. The 9th Sanguine Tigers return to Division A having taken the Division B title in Season 8. The Black Spikes Team 2 (Yellow Submarine) have been bouncing between Division B and A as well, but are looking to solidify their top division standing. Eon Synergy hopes to continue their domination in Europe for a third straight season. Russian Jade Falcon are ready to sink their talons into unsuspecting teams, and Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces prepare to defend the Capellan border (or I guess it’s the FedCom border in the current MWO timeline). Rounding out Europe is the White Death Mercenary Company, one of the longest running teams in Division A.

North America has a grand total of 8 teams, making it the largest of the three regions in MRBC’s Division A. First we have the 228th again fielding the “Black Watch”, season six champs seeking to repeat their prior performance. Standing in their way is the 42nd Scorned, newcomers to the MRBC made of division A veterans. Dropship 5 returns for their second season, and newbies Osiriz are anything but new as the seasoned MechWarriors burst on to the scene. SiG comes from Division B for their first Division A season, and finally we have Steel Jaguar looking for an unprecedented fifth Division A title.

White Death Mercenary Company

All these teams are chomping at the bit, and there have already been a few matches. So far in Europe the 9th Sanguine Tigers edged out the White Death Mercenaries in a nail-biting victory of 3 to 2, with many games coming down to one or two ‘Mechs for either side. 9th Sanguine leads the leaderboard with a reputation score of 1325, but the Black Spikes Team 2 are hot on their heels with reputation score of 1250 (for more on reputation rewards check out the MRBC’s rules under “rep rewards”).

North America has already had a number of games, and so far Dropship 5 has pulled into a comfortable lead with 3500 points and not a single round lost, however being a full game ahead of the pack means it’s still very much anybody’s race.

In Asia Pacific The Cheapskates defeated team Spud Shed 4 to 1 to take the early lead with 1475 reputation points, with team VETO close behind with 1225.

The league is well under way in it’s 9th season with matches occurring almost every day. For up to the minute scores and live webcasting, check out the MRBC website as well as their twitch channels. We’ll come back to the MRBC later in the season to check on the scores, and from all of us here at Sarna: good luck, Mechwarriors!

All images courtesy of their respective teams and the MRBC.

Community Outreach – BanditB17, Competitive MWO, and the MechWarrior World Championships

Welcome to Community Outreach! This week we speak with BanditB17, a MechWarrior Online Shoutcaster, MRBC league admin, and all around hyper-connected individual in the MechWarrior Online community. We ask him what it’s like to cast some of the biggest games in MechWarrior as well as help out with one of MWO’s biggest leagues. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): To start, who are you? Briefly introduce yourself.

BanditB17: I am BanditB17. I am a community shoutcaster and Official Shoutcaster for the Mechwarrior Online World Championship 2016 and, hopefully, 2017.

Sean: Hopefully.

BanditB17: Hopefully, yeah. I am one of the administrators for the MRBC under Doyle. We are, of course, entering into our ninth season of competitive play. I started playing around season four and then became an admin around season six. I also do shoutcasting for MRBC, which actually got me started, and then I was able to move into more awesome things, of course. And I am drop-caller and leader, one of the leaders, of MarineMechs Divison B competitive-casual team.

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Community Outreach – Alex “Flyingdebris” Iglesias

This week on Community Outreach, we talk to one of the talented artists bringing BattleTech into the modern era: Alex Iglesias. Most notably the artist to create the designs featured in MechWarrior Online, we ask him what brought him to BattleTech, his inspirations, and how he goes about reinventing these classic images. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): Hi Alex! First off, thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview. To start, who are you? Briefly introduce yourself.

Alex: My name is Alex Iglesias, I’m 32 years old, and have been a ‘Mech fan for a significant portion of that length of time.  

Sean: When did you get into BattleTech?

Alex: Sometime between ’93-96.  Depending on whether you’d consider the cartoon, the Sega game, MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, or the novels as officially “in.”

Sean: What BattleTech games have you played?

Alex: Sega Battletech Game, MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, the Battletech CCG, MechWarrior 3, MechCommander, Virtual World Pods, Firestorm Pods, MechWarrior 4: Vengeance/Black Knight/Mercenaries, MechWarrior: Living Legends, MechWarrior Online, and Tabletop.

Sean: Your work in MechWarrior Online is pretty well known, but is there any other BattleTech products your art is featured in?

Alex: Creating art for the Tabletop books, doing some HUD design for MechWarrior: Living Legends, and I suppose the MWO designs carrying over to HBS’s Battletech game.

Sean: What’s your favourite ‘Mech?

Alex:  Don’t have an all-around favorite, more like situational favorites.  Urbies and Atlases (Atlii?) for humor, Crab and King Crab for looks, JagerMechs for dakka, and TSM equipped Berserkers because briefcases of doom are fun.

Sean: Was/is there any BattleTech artist you find particularly inspirational?

Alex: All of them to varying degrees, but especially Loose. He was probably my first exposure to BT art. The first fan art I started making back in the day was based off of his art.

Sean: What’re you doing right now?  I mean, in terms of your work.

Alex:  Working on MWO and MechWarrior 5 stuff.

Sean: I’m thinking I probably already know the answer to this, but could you tell us what stuff?

Alex: Sorry, can’t announce the specifics of what I’m currently working on. Suffice to say that it primarily involves ‘Mechs.

Sean: What’s your design philosophy when you recreate these iconic ‘Mechs?

Image courtesy of MechWarrior Online

Alex:  Depends on a few factors. In general, I do like to try to incorporate design elements of modern military vehicle systems, and mix it with a little bit of ‘rule of cool’. In the case of designs for MechWarrior Online, I try to factor in gameplay aspects of ‘Mech bodyplans and balance that against preserving the aesthetics that make it recognizable as a particular ‘Mech.

Sean: Let’s talk MechWarrior Online specifics. What was your favorite ‘Mech to design?

Alex: Probably still the King Crab.

Sean: Why was the King Crab your favorite?

Alex: King Crab just has a very unique body layout that was a lot of fun to draw, I am a fan of ballistic weapons like AC/20s, and I also like the claws.

Sean: Which ‘Mech was the hardest to redesign?

Alex: Hard to say, but probably the Mauler. Trying to figure out how to get those LRM shoulders to not be bullet magnets, but still look like a proper mauler was a real pain.

Sean: Which one was the easiest?

Alex: Not sure, none seemed so easy that it stands out in my memory.

Sean: What ‘Mech do you really want to redesign for MechWarrior Online?

Alex:  I would love to do some of the crazy loadout outlier mechs, like the Kraken or Piranha, or some of the really crazy looking ‘Mechs aesthetics-wise like the Blood Kite or Hoplite.

Sean: I would love to see you do up a Kraken. Alright, let’s take an example to see what your redesign process looks like. I’m currently a huge fan of the Wolfhound. How’d you go about redesigning that ‘Mech?

Alex: Typically, I grab as much existing art of the Wolfhound as I can, and sort of start trying to identify the design elements that make it visually distinct. In the case of the Wolfhound, you have the obviously canine inspired cockpit, a very polygonal laser encrusted torso, and a few other small elements in terms of armor panels and certain shapes throughout the body. I then start sketching a sort of blobby black-and-white silhouette that I try to get into a rough approximation of the body plan in order to start experimenting. I’ll then proceed to mess with and tweak the design for a long while, then proceed to start cleaning it up and increasing level of detail, though I’ll likely still keep experimenting well into this stage.  Once everything is nice and clean in gray scale, I’ll start working on the lighting, color, weathering, paint-jobs, and such.

Image courtesy of MechWarrior Online

Sean: Were their any ‘Mechs you were asked to redesign, but had so little imagery it was hard to get a feel for? Any ‘Mech that made you initially say, “Well, what do I do here?”

Alex: Not really, as there would almost invariably be a mini of it, and potentially some old CCG art of it.

Sean: Did it ever feel a little sacrilegious to add hips to ‘Mechs that never had them? Like the Nova, Viper, or Locust?

Alex: At first it kind of did, as there is some difficulty in preserving recognition of a certain chassis when giving a ‘Mech with no hips a pelvis, and for these ‘Mechs, no hips were very much a part of what made them standout. However, I never much thought that lack of hips made much sense.  Seems like it would make for a very bumpy and clumsy ride.

Sean: Yeah, I never understood how they could move at all. So, when you finally got the green light to redesign the Unseen ‘Mechs, how’d that feel?

Alex: Like Christmas.

Sean: For the Unseen ‘Mechs, there were usually 2 very different sets of images to choose from when redesigning. On some, like the Shadowhawk, it seems very true to the original. For others, like the Marauder, it seems more heavily influenced by the Unseen version. What made you go one way or the other with these ‘Mechs?

Alex: Mix of reasons. In the case of the Marauder, it’s factors like the original’s dorsal AC/5 actually being mounted in the side torso according to the stats, needing a more animation friendly pelvis and leg structure, some elements of personal taste, and other stuff along those lines.

 Sean: Anything else you’d like to share? Feel free to get shamelessly self-promoty.

Alex: I can be reached pretty easily on twitter @Flyingdebrisguy, I try to respond if I can and love to talk about ‘Mech stuff with people. Sometimes I post doodles. Also check out White Dragon Miniatures, they’ve got a 3D printed mini version of my old Fiddler ‘Mech design in their game.

Sean: Well, that’s all I had. Thanks again for doing this interview, I really appreciate it.

Alex: No problem! I look forward to seeing it.

Community Outreach – MRBC’s Doyle

Welcome to Community Outreach, where we here at Sarna reach out to learn more about other BattleTech communities and the people that shape them. This week we interview Doyle, the founder of the Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission (MRBC) league for MechWarrior Online. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): So, to start off, how about we begin with “who are you?” Briefly introduce yourself.

Doyle: I’m Matt Doyle. I’ve been playing MechWarrior pretty much since the start, competitively since the start. I’ve been involved in top-level European competitive teams since very, very early on. Ex-SJR [ed. Steel Jaguar], we broke away to form our own unit, which its current iteration is 9th Sanguine Tigers, and of course, I’m the founder of MRBC League.

Sean: What is the MRBC?

Doyle: Well, I would say it’s the most accessible and biggest, player-run competition these days in MechWarrior Online. We’ve been around a long time, so I guess we’re now the longest running as well. And yeah, it works as a league, hence the name MRBC League. It’s accessible to teams of all levels from the very bottom right to the very top. You can always enter at the bottom division and have fun, just as you can be a top-level team fighting it out for the title of Division A as well.

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MechWarrior Online Skill Tree Implementation Indefinitely Delayed

In an announcement on twitter as well as the MechWarrior Online forums yesterday, Piranha Games Inc. President Russ Bullock announced that the implementation of the planned Skill Tree Enhancement will be delayed as the game’s designers continue to develop and refine the Skill Tree.  

The overhauled skill system has been a contentious issue for the MechWarrior Online Community. The stated goal of PGI was to enhance the player experience by allowing the player to customize their mech’s performance to fit their goals, while also promoting a ‘Mech build diversity in the game. Additionally, the skill system had the long term goal of phasing out the “quirk” system, often criticized for adding a layer of obfuscation to ‘Mech performance that is difficult for new players to understand.

However, many players felt the Skill Tree enhancement were an attempt by PGI to roll back pilot progress and introduce a pay-wall for veteran players in order to regain their standing. This was considered especially galling, as some players have spent thousands of dollars on MechWarrior Online already. The player backlash was mounting, resulting in some pretty intense YouTube and twitter rants.

With yesterday’s posting, PGI has told players that they recognize the deficiencies of the proposed Skill Tree build, and will be taking into account player concerns regarding lost progress and pay-walling. With no updated release date provided, the intent is clear that PGI will go back to the drawing board in order to correct these shortcomings. Hopefully this marks a turn in the conversation, one which MechWarrior Online players will be quite happy to hear.